E. coli O157:H7 Cases Linked to Hazelnuts

DeFranco & Sons of Los Angeles is voluntarily recalling bulk and consumer-packaged in-shell hazelnuts and mixed-nut products containing in-shell hazelnuts. The recalled products are linked to seven cases of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin and may cause serious illness. Consumers who have purchased bulk in-shell hazelnuts or mixed-nut products containing in-shell hazelnuts should check with the retailer to determine if they are subject to the recall, or throw the nuts away.

DeFranco & Sons is voluntarily recalling in-shell hazelnuts, also called filberts, and mixed nuts containing in-shell hazelnuts that have been linked to seven cases of E. coli O157:H7 in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. These nuts were distributed nationwide and to Canada Nov. 2 to Dec. 22, 2010. The in-shell hazelnuts may have been sold in 2-pound and 4-pound packages of mixed nuts, 1-pound packages containing only in-shell hazelnuts or in open bins of nuts in grocery stores.

Most people infected with E. coli O157:H7 develop diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps 2-8 days (3-4 days, on average) after swallowing the organism, but some illnesses last longer and are more severe. Infection is usually diagnosed by stool sample culture. While most people recover within a week, some develop a severe infection. A type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can begin as the diarrhea is improving; this can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5 years old and the elderly. Signs and symptoms of HUS may include: fever, abdominal pain, pale skin tone, fatigue and irritability, small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth, decreased urination and swelling of the face, hands, feet, or entire body. Persons who experience these symptoms and believe they are at risk for HUS should seek emergency medical care immediately. E. coli O157:H7 can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems.

The FDA is advising consumers not to eat recalled in-shell hazelnuts and mixed nuts containing in-shell hazelnuts. Consumers are advised to follow recall instructions and check with the retailer to see if the bulk nuts they purchased are among those being recalled, or throw the product away. Consumers should check the 1-pound, 2 pound and 4-pound products to see if the brand name and "Sell by Date" matches those listed below.

DeFranco & Sons received the in-shell hazelnuts from other suppliers and growers. In some cases, the in-shell hazelnuts were mixed and packaged with other nuts. The products were subsequently distributed nationwide and to Canada. The affected products listed below were distributed between Nov. 2, 2010 and Dec. 22, 2010.

The affected products are listed below by Brand/Size/Product/Sell by Date/UPC"

Sunripe/1 lb/Large Hazelnuts/6/30/11/070533 000167

Sunripe/1 lb/Mixed Nuts/6/30/11/070533 000143

Sunripe/2 lbs/Mixed Nuts/6/30/11/070533 001003

Sold as "Seasons Greetings" Gift Pack/4 lbs/Mixed Nuts/6/30/11 070533 101024

Sunripe/50 lbs/Imperial Mixed Nuts/None/None

Sunripe/50 lbs/Supreme Mixed Nuts/None/None

George Packing/50 lbs/Hazelnuts

Recall applies only to the products distributed by DeFranco & Sons between 11/2/10 to 12/22/10.

The 50-pound bags of in-shell hazelnuts or mixed nuts with in-shell hazelnuts may have been repacked into smaller packages by other firms or sold from bulk containers to consumers. The affected nuts may have been sold by retailers nationwide and in Canada.

The FDA became of aware of the problem in late February and is actively working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health and agricultural agencies in those states where illnesses have occurred to investigate the source of the contamination. The investigation is still ongoing. The FDA is also working with state authorities to take appropriate action to address any product that may be remaining on the market. The FDA has also shared information with Canadian authorities about the problem.

Consumers with questions about this recall should contact DeFranco & Sons at 1-800-992-3992 Monday through Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific time.

The FDA encourages consumers with questions about nut safety to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD.